When West Bengal was trying to put agriculture land to industrial use triggering the Nandigram and Singur protests, several other states were converting their wastelands into cropland, forests and forest plantations, a government study said on Wednesday.In total, 3.2 million hectares of wasteland in India was put to good use (see box), according to the National Remote Sensing Centre data. A large chunk of this was converted to cropland (1.3 million hectares) and plantations, where agriculture and horticulture activities are in progress. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Bihar topped in this category.
Against the 3.2 million hectares of wasteland that was converted, the increase in total wasteland was 2.7 million hectares, reducing the net gain to 0.5 millionhectares.
Releasing the Wastelands Atlas of India brought out by Department of Land Resources, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said a slight increase in wasteland area was recorded in states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Uttarakhand.
The increase in wasteland is attributed to snow cover, glacial action, waterlogging, marshy lands and cropland rendered useless by floods.
“Though some natural events resulted in loss of useful land, government schemes such as drought areas programmes and Integrated Watershed Development Programme have resulted in building of numerous water bodies, leading to more green pastures and cultivable lands,” Dr Shyam Sunder, principal scientist, NRSC told HT.